A share of the spoils at Tannadice as United and Thistle draw 1-1.
Match Summary by Ian Isbister
United went into their first game of 2019 hoping to banish last week’s defeat at Alloa and to kick-start their push for the Championship title. New signing Aidan Nesbitt, signed from MK Dons, started on the bench, whilst Manager Robbie Neilson made three changes from the Alloa game. Watson, King and Curran were dropped from the starting eleven and Smith, Aird and Fyvie their replacements. Ross County’s surprise defeat away to Morton last night gave United extra impetuous going into the game.
Partick Thistle rang the changes with three of their new signings making it into their starting line-up. Hazard replaced Sneddon in goal for the Jags, whilst Saunders and Harkins stepped in for Scobbie and Keown. United fans will know a few familiar faces in the Thistle side with ex-Arabs Erskine, Slater and Spittal all in the squad.
On one of the coldest days at Tannadice this season, United kicked off playing towards the Eddie Thompson stand. The first chance of the game fell to Thistle’s Miles Storey after only three minutes. A long ball over the heads of the United defence was controlled well by the striker, but his first time left foot shot was just wide of Siegrist’s left hand post. A fortunate let off for the home side, particularly as the striker looked marginally offside.
United’s luck ran out on nine minutes when a corner by Slater was met seven yards out by Doolan and the striker’s header was too much for Siegrist in the United goal. First blood to Thistle and no more than they deserved.
United looked to get back in the game straight away, with Safranko and Smith in particular causing concern for the Thistle defence. Plenty of work rate by the tangerine side but little in the way of clear cut chances. Two corners in succession by Aird after 20 minutes epitomised United’s match so far as they just failed to meet a United head.
United first effort came on 34 mins when, finding space in midfield, Fyvie’s golf-esque chip was perfectly placed onto the head of Safranko. Under pressure from McGinty, the Slovakian did well to get his header goal bound, but his effort was just past Hazard’s right hand post. Better from United but still a lot of effort for little reward.
United could have been further behind when Spittal came close to adding a second on 40 minutes. As he raced onto a pass from Slater, his first time shot was well struck but was equally matched by the one handed save by Siegrist down to his right hand post. A great save but another reminder for the home side that Thistle were clearly looking to start the year with a bang. As referee Bobby Madden blew for half-time, United Manager Robbie Neilson would no doubt be looking for a response from his side in the second half.
United started the second half with Aidan Nesbitt making his debut for United, replacing Aird. The 21 year old played for Neilson whilst at MK Dons.
The second half began very much as the first with both sides weighing each other up, long range efforts from Harkins of Thistle, and McMullan of United the only highlights of the opening 10 minutes of the half.
United’s new boy Nesbitt was seeing plenty of the ball in the final third but the attacking midfielder was up against a resolute Jags defence.
In 61 mins, United finally made their efforts count. As Nesbitt danced into the box, a clumsy foul by Harkins had Referee Madden pointing to the spot. Captain Fraser Fyvie made no mistake in sending keeper Hazard the wrong way to make it 1-1. Thistle had been the better team up to that point, but a moment of inspiration from Nesbitt was getting its just reward.
With half an hour to go it was anyone’s game. Thistle were sticking to their game plan but United now had their tails up. Safranko was instrumental in United’s resurgence and was unfortunate to see his left foot shot saved by Hazard on the 72 minute mark. Just one minute later and the home side had the ball in the net, only for referee Bobby Madden to rule it out for a slight push by Frans as he headed home. United now had more of a stranglehold on the game but found it difficult to make any breakthrough. The game now being played exclusively in the final third of Thistle’s half. Chances from both King and Nesbitt were coming close in the final stages but not enough to trouble the Thistle rearguard.
As the final whistle blew for full-time at 1-1 it was a day of few chances for United. Next up is Dunfermline Athletic at home next Saturday, and with the transfer window now fully open there is a good chance of some new faces arriving at Tannadice this week.
Man of the Match - Safranko. On a day of few standouts, the Slovakian’s efforts and non stop running earn him today’s award.
Dundee United - Siegrist, Murdoch, Booth, Frans, McMullan, Fyvie (C), Stanton, Safranko, Smith (King 76 mins), Bouhenna, Aird (Nesbitt 45 mins)
Subs not used - Rakovan (GK), Curran, Robson, Rabitsch, Watson,
Partick Thistle - Hazard, Elliott, Penrice, McGinty, Spittal, Bannigan, Doolan, Harkins (Cardle 66 mins), Slater, Storey (Roy 79 mins), Saunders (Jefferies 75 mins)
Subs not used - Sneddon, Erskine, McCarthy, Wilson,
Referee - Bobby Madden
Assistants - Paul O’Neill and Colin Drummond
Attendance - 5,282